why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?


Normally open July 4th only---the one day a year when partisan politics, religion, etc. are acceptable topics on this Board (within reason). The forum is now closed.

why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby hammer forever » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:25 am

I don't understand the common use of the phrase "how are you".

The person asking is, in most cases, NOT inquiring about your general health and well being. The person asking sometimes does not even wait for a reply! And if there is a reply that is given, it is often rote, mechanical, delivered in a flat monotone.

Why did this misused phrase become part of our behavior?
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Daisy » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:45 am

I think it has just morphed into a polite, rhetorical greeting. But most people would probably reply with a 'fine', whether true or not. The interesting example is the doctors office where it is not rhetorical. But how many of us are tempted to answer back with a 'fine' or 'good' in response?
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby kuha » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:01 am

It's a bit more than the equivalent of "hello there"--perhaps something like "I willingly acknowledge your presence and hope that things are well [but if they're not, no big whoop]."

If you really want to get into WEIRD reflexive comments, lets start with what people say after someone sneezes. THAT whole thing is truly bizarre--or am I being too controversial even for July 4?
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Daisy » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:09 am

kuha wrote:THAT whole thing is truly bizarre--or am I being too controversial even for July 4?

"cover your mouth!" is controversial?
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby kuha » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:17 am

Daisy wrote:
kuha wrote:THAT whole thing is truly bizarre--or am I being too controversial even for July 4?

"cover your mouth!" is controversial?


:D Yes--you are infringing on my sacred liberty to spew as I choose.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby lonewolf » Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:16 am

I vowed not to participate in Free Speech Week but the meaningless "how are you" is one of my most non-pettiest of peeves. I do not ask and do not respond.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Daisy » Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:35 am

lonewolf wrote:I vowed not to participate in Free Speech Week

Great to see you!! :)
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby mamo » Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:52 am

Civility.

There are endless variations:
What's happenin'?
How's it hangin'?
Hi
Howdy
Hey, dude
Good mornin'

Or the other side of the coin:
You're late
Get out of my way
Bad hair day?
What happened?
Hung over again?

The question reminds me of the Seinfeld bit where, instead of a "bless you" after a sneeze, you say something more complementary like "you're so good looking".

Of course it's eye contact that says the most.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby SQUACKEE » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:28 am

When someone asks how I am, and doesn't really care how I actually am, I respond, nude from the waist down and on suicide watch, try it.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby SQUACKEE » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:30 am

mamo wrote:Civility.

There are endless variations:
What's happenin'?
How's it hangin'?
Hi
Howdy
Hey, dude
Good mornin'

Or the other side of the coin:
You're late
Get out of my way
Bad hair day?
What happened?
Hung over again?

The question reminds me of the Seinfeld bit where, instead of a "bless you" after a sneeze, you say something more complementary like "you're so good looking".

Of course it's eye contact that says the most.


Whenever someone sez bless you, I always respond, "What are you, the fucking Pope!" Try it.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby jeremyp » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:37 am

My least fave nonsense phrases:
"I am sorry for your loss." ( I don't know what else to say)
"Now you have closure." (sorry your child got killed but at least you know who did it and he's in jail)
"Can I help you?" (what Zimmerman said to Martin?)
"How was your meal?" ( Is that our food or did you vomit?)
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:51 am

SQUACKEE wrote:
Whenever someone sez bless you, I always respond, "What are you, the fucking Pope!" Try it.


I think I will pass on that...

As to 'how are you?", it is pretty common here in Illinois. I usually say, fine, thanks and move on. It really is just another way to say hello.

But I guess for squack it is an invitation to spit in their eye! 'How dare you ask and not really mean it!' The Horror!
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Flumpy » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:06 pm

'Have a nice day' :x

Hearing this makes British people want to punch things.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby kuha » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:18 pm

jeremyp wrote:My least fave nonsense phrases:
"I am sorry for your loss." ( I don't know what else to say)
"Now you have closure." (sorry your child got killed but at least you know who did it and he's in jail)
"Can I help you?" (what Zimmerman said to Martin?)
"How was your meal?" ( Is that our food or did you vomit?)


Good list. On the last, the MOST irritating is the "How are we enjoying our meal?" Sometimes it's asked before the first bite goes down the chute. In any case, I feel like responding: "I, myself, am enjoying MY meal, but I'd prefer that YOU didn't eat it."
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby SQUACKEE » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:59 pm

Conor Dary wrote:
SQUACKEE wrote:
Whenever someone sez bless you, I always respond, "What are you, the fucking Pope!" Try it.


I think I will pass on that...

As to 'how are you?", it is pretty common here in Illinois. I usually say, fine, thanks and move on. It really is just another way to say hello.

But I guess for squack it is an invitation to spit in their eye! 'How dare you ask and not really mean it!' The Horror!


I only say this as a joke but I can see it is an opening to attack me, oh well.

BTW I do say bless you to people who sneeze. It is a nice thing to say.
Last edited by SQUACKEE on Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:11 pm

SQUACKEE wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:
SQUACKEE wrote:
Whenever someone sez bless you, I always respond, "What are you, the fucking Pope!" Try it.


I think I will pass on that...

As to 'how are you?", it is pretty common here in Illinois. I usually say, fine, thanks and move on. It really is just another way to say hello.

But I guess for squack it is an invitation to spit in their eye! 'How dare you ask and not really mean it!' The Horror!


I only say this as a joke but I can see it is an opening to attack me, oh well.


Squack, Joking? I don't believe it....

An opening to attack, you mean like the Queen's Gambit? Rook takes Knight, Checkmate! :D
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby kuha » Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:54 pm

SQUACKEE wrote:BTW I do say bless you to people who sneeze. It is a nice thing to say.


But, WHY, is my question? Why not say "bless you" if someone trips on the sidewalk, or drives 55 in the left hand lane of the highway, or orders a cheeseburger with fries? How is the "need" to be blessed connected with sneezing and not 30 million other things?
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:31 pm

I think it dates back centuries when medical knowledge was rather poor. I believe the custom came about because when you sneezed people might have thought you had the plague, since it was considered a symptom. And considering how deadly the Black Death was, I suppose any kind of support was appreciated.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby kuha » Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:27 pm

Conor Dary wrote:I think it dates back centuries when medical knowledge was rather poor. I believe the custom came about because when you sneezed people might have thought you had the plague, since it was considered a symptom. And considering how deadly the Black Death was, I suppose any kind of support was appreciated.


OK. Taking off from there, from now on when someone sneezes near me, I'll say: "The graveyard's that [pointing] way." I'm sure it will catch on.
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby Marlow » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:06 pm

anyone in the world asking the question wrote:why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?


Man, we are REALLY bored if that's what needs to be discussed at all. :P
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Re: why say "how are you", if you don't mean it?

Postby tandfman » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:51 pm

Conor Dary wrote:I think it dates back centuries when medical knowledge was rather poor. I believe the custom came about because when you sneezed people might have thought you had the plague, since it was considered a symptom. And considering how deadly the Black Death was, I suppose any kind of support was appreciated.


Wiki sez:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bless_you


Snopes (cited by Wiki) sez:

http://www.snopes.com/language/phrases/blessyou.asp
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